The dream of discovering wealth through gold mining has attracted tens of thousands to Alaska over the decades. Even today people continue to travel to Nome to test their luck.
Modern dredges come in all sizes aided by new technology. Despite modern advancements, the tedious process of separating gold from the soil around it is basically the same. Sluice boxes with different sizes of mesh are used to work down dirt that hopefully contains gold in some quantity.
Chick Trainor has been mining near Nome for the past 30 years.
“I’ve read everything there is on Nome, what transpired here, gold rush very fascinating,” Trainor said. “That’s why when these people come up here and they take such a chance, on this dredging for example, I can understand it, because it’s the same thing as happened back then.”
The first major find in Nome was at anvil creek in 1898. That started the gold rush. But with much of the land around the creeks already claimed, new comers tried their luck along the beach. Even in the early 1900’s people knew they needed to get out in the water. Much of Nome’s early history can be relived through photographs and artifacts at the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum on Front Street.
“In the summer of 1900 people were going crazy trying to mine as much gold off the beach as they possibly could some of the guys even go into building contraptions trying to work off shore not very successful because they didn’t have the technology that we have today,” said Memorial Museam director Laura Samuelson.
Alaska’s largest gold rush may have come and gone in Nome, but the drive to find gold is as strong as ever.